Before you can use the grid the first thing to do is to obtain a grid certificate. This is a digital certificate that identifies you to remote computers, allowing you to use the infrastructure. Grid certificates can be obtained relatively easily from Certification Authorities in your region.
A Virtual Organization (VO) is a group of grid users with similar interests and requirements who are able to work collaboratively with other members of the group and share resources such asdata, software, expertise, CPU, storage space, and so forth regardless of geographic location. Examples of VOs include ‘alice’ for researchers working on the ALICE experiment at the LHC, ‘biomed’ which supports medical image processing and biomedical data processing, and ‘esr’ for earth science research. In order to be able to submit jobs to the grid, users need to be a member of a VO.
Which VO a person chooses to work with depends upon the work they wish to do. For example, in Europe, a list of all EGEE registered VOs is available from the CIC Portal. Within the United Kingdom, for example, there are also test VOs which can be used by individuals wishing to look at how easy it would be to “Gridify” their work.
Depending on the project or discipline, there may already be a VO for users to join. However, there is also the possibility to set up a new VO if a user cannot find an appropriate existing VO.
Users are able to port applications onto the grid and also incorporate new services for use on the grid infrastructure.
For problems using the grid, users can contact Global Grid User Support who respond to application-related problems, catalog and review existing documentation and also write new documentation about using the grid when necessary.
Monitoring tools can be used to check the overall state of the grid or particular sites, or to help track down problems if jobs are failing. Various grid monitoring and accounting tools are in development for different purposes, although so far they tend to be aimed at administrators rather than users.
The Real Time Monitor developed by Imperial College London, gives a graphical representation of the EGEE Grid Infrastructure. (N.B. You will need Java installed to view the Real Time Monitor.)
For an overview of the grid, the Grid Observatory collects, publishes, and analyzes, data on the behaviour of the EGEE grid. The ultimate goal of The Grid Observatory is to integrate data collection, data analysis, and the development of models and a framework for the domain knowledge.
. . . which grid should you choose? (For more choices, see our directory.)
. . . take advantage of our other great learning resources
. . . want to know what science is on the grid, who the scientists are and where they work? GridTalk’s “Grid Guide” is an innovative introduction, containing capsule descriptions of the projects and their physical locales, allowing you to see the sites — and the sights.